China has been paving its way to make further technology advances by pushing the engineering education as one of the key fields to the center stage.
The new engineering education will play a crucial part for a university looking to generate more leading academic researches and key technologies, Qiu Shuiping, chair of Peking University (PKU) Council said at a forum held from October 22-24 at Peking University.
Qiu said the university plans to speed up incubating talents and R&D development in the following five years by boosting engineering education.
The country has mulled over the idea of promoting engineering education in 2016 and announced its plan in the following year. In 2018, the Ministry of Education released the plan to boost academic education in four fields including engineering, agriculture, medicine and liberal arts.
PKU, as one of the nation’s most prestigious universities, has already taken actions.
According to Qiu, PKU founded the Institute for Artificial Intelligence in 2019. More schools, such as Materials Science and Engineering, Future Technology and Integrated Circuits were set up in the following year.
“PKU will launch new schools in sections of computer science, electronics and intelligence to double down on cultivating innovative talents and achieving technology breakthroughs,” said Qiu.
John Hopcroft, a recipient of the A.M. Turing Award who is also a PKU professor, said at the forum, “The world has undergone an information revolution and talent was the major force driving this evolution.” He advised universities like Peking University to focus on the first three undergraduate years and attract high quality faculty to improve education.
Heavyweights in the tech industry shared more insights in terms of technology application at the forum.
“There are too many science minds, yet too few engineering minds,” said Robin Li, chairman and CEO of China’s search engine giant Baidu.
He said a man with science mind would think only fully matured technology can be applied to a real world. But an engineering mind can translate difficulties to simple tasks and help “iterating technology applications step by step with compromises.”
Baidu plans to raise five million talented artificial intelligence workers, Li said at the forum.
The inaugural Peking University Emerging Engineering International Forum consists of multiple sessions aiming to further promote the development of emerging engineering programs and deepen global academic exchanges. Over 200 officials, academics, industry experts attended the forum.
“China is at its best time for technology innovators,” Li said, “With numerous application scenarios, complete supply chains, growing infrastructure, best environment for the talents, lots of innovations are on the way.”